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Inspiration for this DIY Holiday Tree of Life kit comes from the extensive collection of paper cutouts collected by Bureau of Indian Affairs teacher Mable Morrow during her work with the Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe of South Dakota (1923-1937). The collection is housed at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Native Americans of New England and the upper Midwest were making cutout silhouettes from birch bark before the first European settlers made contact with them. Cutouts served as patterns for beadwork, quillwork, and other ornaments to be applied to clothing, canoes, tools and toys. Through trade with Europeans, these tribes obtained scissors, and their cutouts became more complex. Birch bark gave way to paper and cutouts began to be viewed not just as patterns, but as art.
Trees of Life are universal in their appeal and their intention to celebrate life, joy, and the natural world. The design of a tree of life is as varied as the artisans who make them and the villages in which they live.